Short Fan Fiction: The Roughnecks

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01/26/06 06:51 AM

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I'm not certain if this is the right place for it, but I wanted to share this story with you guys. No critiques or responses are needed, but if you want to comment feel free. Hope you enjoy. Thanks.
"But it SHOULD be a spectacle! It should be grand and exciting to us all! I'd hate to think that we've become so jaded that we find even our greatest tiumph, resurrecting the Star League, simply one more obligation."
-General Victor Steiner-Davion (First Prince and Archon in exile) 3064
01/26/06 06:52 AM

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The Roughnecks

Sean Hastings wrestled with the controls as his Hatchetman battlemech shook around him. The withering fire he was taking made the forty-five ton war machine feel like it was coming apart at the seams.
“Somebody help me out!” he cried into the microphone built into his neurohelmet.
His eyes darted around his cockpit from screen to screen trying to take in all the information he could about the status of his ‘mech. One showed the armor on his right arm and torso in red. Another told him in flashing red letters that the laser in that arm had been destroyed. He looked back at his heads-up display and finally saw his assailants, two pirate battlemechs, storming out of the forest on his right flank. Their surprise attack had all but crippled his machine and Sean struggled to turn and face them. Another round of weapons fire would be coming his way soon and he had to get his critically damaged side turned away.
He felt clumsy, like his ‘mech was refusing to work with him. He glanced at the damage reports again, but saw no sign of a gyro hit. No matter how much he wanted to blame his performance on the Hatchetman, he knew it was all his doing. It was his first time in ‘mech to ‘mech combat and the stress was nearly unbearable. He was having trouble using maneuvers that he had mastered in the simulator; things that should be second nature.
“I’m comin’ for ya, rookie! Just hold on!”
That was Captain McMichaels’ voice, exploding from radio speakers inside of Sean’s helmet. The Captain was lance commander on this patrol and Sean had hoped to impress him, but now that was forgotten. Now he just hoped to stay alive.
The young mechwarrior turned his ‘mech toward the enemy just in time to see twin clouds of smoke explode from the shoulder missile launchers of the pirate Catapult, each one announcing the launch of fifteen long range missiles. Sean could do nothing but watch as they spun in at him.
Captain McMicheals’ voice blasted through his helmet again, “Sean, hit your jump jets boy.”
Without thinking, Sean’s feet slammed down on the peddles and all forty-five tons of his Hatchetman shot into the air on the ion exhaust from its fusion engine. The quick launch saved him from being torn apart by the missiles that now slammed into the ground where he had been frozen moments before, but nearly a third of them hit the legs of his battlemech, shredding the armor.
His flight trajectory carried him a little to his right and he landed heavily, stumbling forward. Sean had just steadied himself when a long range shot from the enemy Clint’s light autocannon hit his ‘mech’s chest, staggering him backwards. What’s wrong with me? He thought to himself. I've got to get under control! But between the damage alarms and flashing lights from various cockpit screens, he could not concentrate. Suddenly there was another battlemech beside him, one painted in the Roughneck’s green and yellow color scheme. He watched the Thunderbolt as it raised its right arm and fired its extended range large laser at the Catapult. The ruby beam scored a direct hit, slicing armor from the pirate ‘mech’s left torso, just in front of where its bird-like legs met its forward thrust body. Adding insult to injury, the Thunderbolt also fired its own LRM launcher, peppering the enemy machine with missiles.
“You okay, rookie?” Captain McMicheals asked over the com.
It took Sean a moment to answer. “Y-yes, sir. I think so.”
“Good,” his commanding officer replied. “I need you to get your head together and help me out. I got that Catapult’s attention for now, but his friend is gonna snipe me with that AC-5.” He paused as he cracked off another shot with his laser. Sean saw the shot hit the Catapult’s left missile launcher, making the boxy weapon explode and fall uselessly to the ground. “I want you to close with that Clint. Show him how nasty that axe of yours can be. You understand me, soldier?”
Sean swallowed. “Yes, sir.”
“Good boy.”
The rookie mechwarrior shoved his throttle forward and started his mech loping over the grassy terrain towards his adversary. Just as he left, the Captain’s ‘mech was lit up by a full fifteen missiles from the Catapult, but they only pitted the previously pristine armor.
Sean was breathing a bit easier now and things were coming into focus. He remembered to throw some jinks into his ‘mech’s gait, the random zigzags would make him a harder target to hit. The pirate Clint could see him coming and aimed its light autocannon, but its first shot missed over the Hatchetman’s left shoulder. Sean brought his crosshairs to bear and loosed a blast from his own autocannon. A heavier model than the pirate’s, his LB 10-X fired cluster ammunition like a giant shotgun. Now that Sean had closed some of the distance between them, the range difference in their two weapons no longer mattered. Sub-munitions exploded over the Clint’s chest and arms and Sean let out a whoop of triumph, genuinely surprised he had hit. It was the first time he had ever shot at a battlemech outside a simulator.
The stress that had so overwhelmed him at the start of the battle seemed to be slipping away. Sean pressed the foot pedals to the floor and once again rode his machine into the sky. This ride was longer than the last one and brought him to within striking distance of the pirate ‘mech. As he descended, Sean brought his right arm up, the giant hatchet that gave the ‘mech its name glinted in the sunlight as it began its downward swing. Sean connected with the axe at the same moment his ‘mech’s feet hit the ground, adding force to the blow. He caught the Clint on the left shoulder and he smiled as its arm fell away from its torso due to the damage he had caused.
The Clint’s pilot fought against the unbalancing effect of losing the arm and managed to keep the forty ton ‘mech upright. The pirate lashed out, striking Sean in the side with the Clint’s right arm. The barrel of the autocannon crushed armor on his left torso and Sean gritted his teeth as the impact shook his cockpit. He answered the pirate’s hit with twin blasts from his remaining medium pulse lasers. Sean’s Hatchetman had been running hot from his use of its jump jets and now excess heat from firing the lasers welled up into the cockpit, but it was worth it. He grinned even as he drew scorched air into his lungs. The emerald darts of energy projected by the lasers chewed into the Clint’s left leg. Molten metal streamed down over the knee joint, fusing the actuator. Still a little off balance from striking Sean, the Clint’s pilot could not overcome the loss of mobility in his ‘mech’s leg. Sean yelled in triumph again as the enemy battlemech fell to the ground.
“Great job, kid!” Sean heard Captain McMichaels yell. “Now finish him off!”
“Yes, sir!”
Sean raised the hatchet and brought it down hard, carving into the Clint’s chest armor. The enemy ‘mech began to rock from side to side as the pilot tried to get free, but the effort was futile. Sean brought the axe up again and crashed it back down. The alloy blade bit deep and crushed the Clint’s gyro-stabilizer. Without that critical component a battlemech pilot had no hope of keeping the giant war machine upright, much less moving it around or fighting.
Sean raised the hatchet again, but this time he did not bring it down on his foe. He held it in the air, making sure that the enemy pilot could see it and make the next move. The message got through. The Clint ceased its feeble struggling and Sean’s scanners told him that the enemy machine had gone into emergency shutdown, a traditional sign of surrender among mechwarriors. Sean straightened up and turned his Hatchetman away from his defeated enemy.
He watched as Captain McMicheals finished off the Catapult with help from Muriel in her Hunchback. It was no contest. The pirate had already been severely damaged from fighting with the Captain. It only took one shot from Muriel’s AC20 to blow it off its feet. Once the ‘mech crumpled the pilot ejected. Secondary explosions ripped through its frame as the remaining LRM ammo cooked off and the battlemech finally died in a ball of golden fire as its engine shielding gave away, releasing the fusion reaction that powered it.
Captain McMicheal’s Thunderbolt turned towards him. “You ok, rookie?” The older man’s voice sounded strange. Sean could imagine his commander with the faceplate of his neurohelmet flipped-up, gripping an unlit cigar between his teeth.
“Yes, sir.” Sean gestured toward the fallen Clint with his hatchet. “I’ve got a prisoner here.”
“Great job! I bet he’ll be able to tell us where that pirate base is. No more of this going on patrol and getting ambushed crap. And Sean,” he paused. “I think we all owe you a beer tonight, you fought like a tiger.”
Sean smiled in the privacy of his cockpit, “Thank you, Captain. It was my pleasure.”
"But it SHOULD be a spectacle! It should be grand and exciting to us all! I'd hate to think that we've become so jaded that we find even our greatest tiumph, resurrecting the Star League, simply one more obligation."
-General Victor Steiner-Davion (First Prince and Archon in exile) 3064
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